Pro Bono Spotlight: Taylor Lamb

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the National Pro Bono Celebration (Oct. 19-25). Pro bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more people in the legal community to get involved. Today, we feature Taylor Lamb for her invaluable work in the Houston legal community.

The Houston Bar Association, the Houston Bar Foundation, and the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers established the Veterans Legal Initiative in 2008 to serve the legal needs of Houston’s large veteran population. In 2011, a Texas Access to Justice Foundation grant allowed the initiative to partner with other bar associations to establish Saturday legal clinics in a 17-county area where low-income veterans had little access to pro bono legal services.

Kathy* came into one of those legal clinics, in Lake Jackson, needing a divorce. Originally married in January, Kathy was the victim of an assault by her husband, Brad*, at the beginning of May. The Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department arrested Brad, who was on felony probation at the time he assaulted his wife and was held on a no-bond status.

Freed from an immediate physical threat by her abusive husband, Kathy was able to move out and purse legal remedies to dissolve their marriage and ensure her future safety. Through the Veterans Legal Initiative, she was matched with volunteer attorney Taylor Lamb, who obtained IOLTA certification for Kathy’s case and had her husband served in the Brazoria County jail.

Licensed in 2010, Lamb is an associate who handles corporate and transactional matters at Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C., in Houston. Since the firm started its pro bono program two years ago, Lamb has handled pro bono cases for Houston Volunteer Lawyers, primarily through the Veterans Legal Initiative.

“There are so many in need,” she said. “They are so grateful when you take the time to listen to them at the clinics. If there is something you can do, you want to do it.”

When Lamb met Kathy, she knew she wanted to help her. “She was an injured veteran who was very young,” Taylor said. “She was younger than me, and she had already had this whole life experience. It was hard to see someone that young who had already gone through so much.”

In addition to handling the divorce, Lamb had to obtain protective orders for Kathy and represent her in hearings in Brazoria County. While it was “a little intimidating,” Lamb said the court experience and interaction with the judge were very positive. She credits her firm’s family law group and the support she received from Houston Volunteer Lawyers with making it easier to handle the case.

Brad pleaded guilty to assault of a family member and was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail. Six days after his release, Lamb finalized the divorce for Kathy, a relatively quick turnaround made possible by a dedicated volunteer and what Lamb describes as “the perfect client.”

“She was so patient and brave in working through the traumatic facts of the case,” Lamb said. She was touched that at the final hearing, Kathy brought a notebook she kept throughout the legal proceedings containing all of the emails Lamb had written to her. “She was so visibly relieved to have this behind her.”

Lamb’s firm started its pro bono program in 2012, and it enjoys great support from firm leadership, she said. The firm sponsors legal advice clinics and is partnering with Houston Volunteer Lawyers to provide new quarterly clinics at the Houston Area Women’s Center.

“It’s so nice to be able to furnish this service,” Lamb said.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.

 

Local bars offering free veterans legal clinic Saturday in Lake Jackson

Veterans who need legal advice or assistance can visit a free legal clinic on Saturday, May 17 in Lake Jackson in conjunction with the Veterans Legal Initiative, a coalition of local bar associations providing pro bono legal services to U.S. veterans in 17 Texas counties.

The clinic will be held at the Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic, 208 Oak Drive South, Suite 700, from 9 a.m. to noon. No appointment is necessary.

The Brazoria County Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative are co-sponsoring the clinic. 

Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive advice and counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid will be assigned a pro bono attorney through Houston Volunteer Lawyers to handle their case.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly Friday clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center from 2 to 5 p.m. on the first floor. More information on the clinics is available at www.hba.org

Free legal clinic for veterans April 12 in Conroe

Veterans who need legal advice can visit a free legal clinic Saturday, April 12 in Conroe.

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Court.

No appointment is necessary.

The Montgomery County Bar Association, the Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative are co-sponsoring the clinic.

Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive advice and counsel at the clinic from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid will be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (first floor) from 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays. For more information on the clinics, visit hba.org.

Houston Bar event offers free wills, medical directives to low-income seniors

Elderly citizens who meet income guidelines can receive simple wills and basic medical directives at a free event sponsored by the Houston Bar Association’s Elder Law Committee.

To apply for assistance through the committee’s Will-A-Thon, senior citizens must call 713-228-0735 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. by April 4 to complete a screening application over the phone, according to the Houston Bar. To qualify, applicants must be Harris County residents 60 years of age or older and meet the Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ low-income guidelines.

 

Those who qualify will receive an appointment to meet with a volunteer attorney on April 9 at the Third Ward Multi-Purpose Center, 3611 Ennis, Suite 118. The documents will be completed and executed on May 21 at the Third Ward Multi-Purpose Center.

The committee provides free legal services and advice to senior citizens in Harris County, as well as free handbooks on elder law.

Houston Bar Foundation honors attorneys for pro bono, volunteer service, legal writing

The Houston Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association, recently announced its annual awards for pro bono service, volunteerism, and legal writing.

S. Jack Balagia Jr., the vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil Corp., was named the fifth recipient of the James B. Sales Pro Bono Leadership Award.

The foundation also named the recipients of awards for outstanding contributions to Houston Volunteer Lawyers, which provides pro bono legal services to low-income residents; for volunteer service to the Dispute Resolution Center, providing free alternatives to formal litigation; and for legal writing in the HBA’s professional journal.

The winners appear below, as provided by the HBA.

  • Fulbright & Jaworski LLP earned the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Houston Volunteer Lawyers by a large firm for the 14th consecutive year.
  • Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by an intermediate firm for the second consecutive year.
  • Baker Hostetler received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a midsize firm.
  • Beck | Redden LLP and Yetter Coleman LLP shared the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a small firm.
  • Coane and Associates, PLLC, and Jenkins & Kamin, LLP, shared the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a boutique firm.
  • Peter J. Bennett was honored for Outstanding Contribution to HVL by a solo practitioner for the second consecutive year.
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. was honored for Outstanding Contribution to HVL by a corporate law department.
  • Susan B. Sanchez of Exxon Mobil Corp. earned her second consecutive award as Outstanding Pro Bono Coordinator.
  • Jack Edwards and his firm, Ajamie LLP, along with John Spiller of Strasburger & Price, LLP, received special recognition from HVL for exceptional pro bono representation on a complex, time-consuming case that took more than five years to complete.
  • Attorney Robert G. Devlin was recognized for Outstanding Volunteer Service to the Dispute Resolution Center.
  • The Hon. Alvin L. Zimmerman was honored for Longevity of Exemplary Service to the Dispute Resolution Center.
  • The Hon. Dan Hinde, judge of the 269th District Court, was honored as the author of the outstanding legal article published in The Houston Lawyer, the HBA’s professional journal.

Program to help attorneys handle pro bono tax cases

Attorneys can learn how to handle a tax controversy case, audit techniques and procedures, and other helpful information at a free CLE program Feb. 7 in Houston.

Houston Volunteer Lawyers, together with the Houston Bar Association Tax Law Section and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, will present “How to Handle a Pro Bono Tax Case” from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 at South Texas College of Law.

The program will also teach attorneys when and how to litigate a tax case, the use of administrative appeals, and innocent spouse/injured spouse relief.

Attorneys who attend the seminar and accept a pro bono tax controversy case from Houston Volunteer Lawyers between Dec. 1, 2013, and Feb. 7, 2013, will be eligible to win an iPad, courtesy of Stratos Legal, that will be given away at the seminar.

Read the agenda and register here.

Free legal clinic for veterans set for Jan. 18 in Conroe

A free legal advice clinic for veterans will take place Saturday, Jan. 18 in Conroe, the Houston Bar Association announced Thursday.

The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic at 800 Riverwood Court, Suite 100. No appointment is necessary.

The clinic will provide an opportunity for any veteran or spouse of a deceased veteran to receive counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law—including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate, and tax law—as well as disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid will be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

 

The Montgomery County Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative are co-sponsoring the clinic.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly clinics from 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays on the first floor of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at 2002 Holcombe Blvd. in Houston. For more information, visit www.hba.org.

Pro Bono Week Spotlight Day 5: Elaine McAnelly

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the celebration of National Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20-26). Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals in the legal community to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. Today, we are featuring Elaine McAnelly for her invaluable work in the Houston legal community.

Elaine McAnelly recently retired after 23 years in the legal department of JPMorgan Chase, at the end of which she was vice president and assistant general counsel. It came as no surprise that when McAnelly retired from Chase this year, she would not be idle for long. After taking a Spanish immersion trip/class in Guanajuato, Mexico, as a longtime pro bono volunteer of Houston Volunteer Lawyers, she reached out to see how she could use her new Spanish skills to do some good for those in need of legal aid.

 

What evolved was more than anyone expected. McAnelly dove into her new role representing Houston’s poorest in matters of family law with the zeal that lawyers’ professional cannons ask them all to strive for. In just a few short months, McAnelly not only learned new areas of law and mentored other volunteer attorneys, she also personally handled family law cases and made a point to do so for Spanish-speaking clients.

McAnelly helped hundreds of Houstonians, who probably don’t even know that they had the privilege of being represented by a lawyer as decorated as McAnelly. Houston Volunteer Lawyers, too, is privileged to have had her aboard. She is now volunteering at Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ clinics every other Wednesday and will continue representing individual clients on a pro bono basis as a retired, but tireless, lawyer.

When asked why she does pro bono work, McAnelly said, “We honor the legal profession when we do the humble work of representing low-income individuals through pro bono programs. We don’t receive fame or notoriety; however, the rewards are plentiful.”

Show You Care: If you are retired, an inactive attorney, or licensed in another state, and you are inspired by McAnelly’s pro bono service, please contact the State Bar of Texas Legal Access Division to participate in the Emeritus Program. And now pro bono attorneys do not have to be bilingual to assist limited English proficient or deaf clients. The State Bar’s Language Access Fund makes interpreter and translator services available to you for pro bono cases.

Contact the Legal Access Division at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855, or probono@texasbar.com.

 

Pro Bono Week Spotlight Day 1: Richard Horstman

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the celebration of National Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20-26). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals in the legal community to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. Today, we are featuring Richard Horstman for his invaluable work in the Houston legal community.

“I regret that I didn’t start doing pro bono earlier,” Horstman says.

In 2007, Horstman and Marathon Oil’s corporate legal department instituted a formal pro bono program for the company’s lawyers. As part of the effort, Catholic Charities made a presentation highlighting the legal needs of immigrant children in the United States. On Oct. 1, 2012, Horstman retired from Marathon Oil, where he was assistant general counsel for almost 35 years.

Horstman agreed to tackle a single case, and now performs nearly 230 pro bono hours a year. “I realized that I am one of the few who can do this because of my expertise as a lawyer,” he says. Horstman’s cases are complicated and time-consuming immigration. He has represented children as young as 3 spanning from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico who have been horribly abused and neglected. Horstman has helped Catholic Charities Cabrini Center to recruit pro bono counsel for clients who move out of the jurisdiction to New York, the Washington, D.C., area and Michigan. He frequently participates in Houston Volunteer Lawyers clinics.

Many of his clients have said he changed their lives and gave them hope.

Marathon Oil is a great example of how law firms and in-house corporate legal departments can implement formal pro bono efforts that strongly encourage their lawyers to get involved. If you are inspired by Marathon Oil’s pro bono program, the Corporate Counsel Section of the State Bar of Texas has numerous resources to get your corporation plugged into the pro bono community. Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) is a nationwide resource for legal departments and in-house attorneys interested in doing legal pro bono work. CPBO provides technical assistance, online services, training, surveys, research materials, onsite pro bono clinics, and confidential consultation services to in-house pro bono volunteers—all at no charge. Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources (Texas C-BAR) provides free business law services across Texas to community-based nonprofits developing affordable housing and other much-needed services in low-income communities.

Show You Care: If you are retired, an inactive attorney, or licensed in another state, and you are inspired by Horstman’s pro bono service, please contact the State Bar of Texas Legal Access Division to participate in the Emeritus Program. And now pro bono attorneys do not have to be bilingual to assist limited English proficient or deaf clients. The State Bar’s Language Access Fund makes interpreter and translator services available to you for pro bono cases.

Contact the Legal Access Division at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855, or probono@texasbar.com.